The always entertaining Kanye West is featured on the cover and in the pages of the new issue of Complex magazine. In his coverstory interview, he talks about how the recession as effected his pocketbook (yes, not even Kanye West is immune to the failing economy), touches on his sexuality and discusses Kanye West: The Brand. To accompany this riveting interview, Complex enlisted CGI photographer Chris Milk to photograph Kanye purely digitally for his very interesting photospread. Here is Kanye‘s Complex magazine cover and a portion of his interview with the mag:
Kanye West is performance art. He’s an idea. A brand. A mission. An inspiring, infuriating, over-the-top and constantly evolving contradiction of values that are articulated sometimes abstractly, and often heavy-handedly, through the man’s every expression—be it producing, rapping, singing, designing or, more often than not these days, just living. Whether it’s the curation of his clothing tonight, the selection of his beautiful, bald date tomorrow, the spare, design-forward architecture of his Los Angeles and Manhattan homes, or the costume party he and his posse threw in Paris during Fashion Week, it’s all presentation—a new vision of the world, starring him as the catalyst.
Complex: You’re driving us through L.A. with no driver or bodyguard—
Kanye West: Yeah. I’m rich and I’m famous, but I try not to be extra with it.
Complex: [Laughs.] Has the recession affected you?
Kanye West: Yeah, I try to avoid it overly affecting me. But some shit has happened, like Best Buy was supposed to [shoot and produce] the tour DVD and they pulled out of it. I definitely got hit with that, because not shooting it was not an option, so I had to pay for it.
Complex: Did you consider how a recession might affect the reception of the “Martin Louis King” video you made in Paris?
Kanye West: People tune into me for escapism. When you went to the Glow in the Dark Tour, you were literally transported to another planet. I know there’s anti-rich sentiment right now, with corporate people not using their jets and Obama saying heads of banks can’t make more than $500,000, but I really feel like that tape embodied me and what Louis Vuitton is about. I’d like to think I give optimism to people when I stunt. When I have a pink watch on or tight jeans on, people talk shit about me, but if I wore all gray and black, who would be the one to wear all the bright colors? How depressing would it be if I was always depressed, or should I say, the press. I’m here to entertain people and to be the one that does the crazy, bold stuff so they can live through me and get their mind off the recession and the war and whatever else is going on in the world.
Complex: You know that video and those pictures made the Internet go apeshit, right?
Kanye West: It blew their fucking mind, didn’t it? I’m going to honestly say I don’t know exactly what it was. Was it—
Complex: Taz’s tights.
Kanye West: That’s what I was about to say! Was it Taz’s outfits? What does Taz wearing tights have to do with me? How does Taz—mind you, a dude who is straight—wearing tights make me gay this week? How am I gay this week?
Complex: You know, since then, people who know that I know you have asked two recurring questions: Is he on drugs? Is he gay?
Kanye West: [Laughs.] What do you tell them?
Complex: That I’ve never seen you do drugs, but I’ve definitely seen you go in, as far as chicks—
Kanye West: [Laughs very hard.] But, you know, that doesn’t prove anything [to them], right? Someone could just be like, “He’s just running in girls when he’s really thinking about fucking guys.” That’s, like, the devil’s advocate thing that they probably say. But drugs? How perfect is that? People think I’m on drugs! I didn’t even have to do drugs for people to think that I was on them. And what’s funny is that I feel like my outfits were very masculine and very hip-hop.
Complex: Why do you think there’s such a fixation on your sexuality?
Kanye West: I really think it’s because society tries to dictate the way a guy is supposed to dress and the way a guy is supposed to act, and I refuse to conform. A lot of these dudes would never be accused of being gay just because they all look exactly alike. If people could just realize the amount of mundaneness and followers that lack creativity… I think people’s mentality is like, Only gay people are that creative. And it’s true there are a lot of gay people who are incredible creative minds, but there are straight people who are incredible creative minds—and there’s gay people who can’t dress or create at all, too. Closed-minded gay people probably say they dress “straight.”
Complex: What does the brand Kanye West mean?
Kanye West: Pop but Luxury. Edgy but Comfortable. I’m about clashing worlds that you think don’t belong together. This is our world and everything belongs together. That’s the ill thing about our president. Our president is black, but our president is white, too. And the original struggle of America is racism, and to have someone in office that represents both of those sides is what I think this world is about. Segregation and snobbery and elitism should be the wack words. That should be what people use to dis people.
Complex: Your fashion endeavors have been much more exclusive and expensive than your music. Does your brand translate equally to both mediums? Do they have the same audiences?
Kanye West: It’s a similar goal. But I feel like when I do my own line it’s not going to be anywhere near as mass as I am to start off with, because it’s impossible to start off there and be credible. I have to start small not only to gain respect but to have time to learn and get better. I have to do some things that affect the world or affect culture, like I did with music. In fashion, trends are set on a high level, so I need to do stuff that hits the runway; like with the Louis shoe and its reverse tongue, that could set a trend that you’ll see on other shoes.
Complex: Would you say your brand is about taking the niche and making it mainstream?
Kanye West: It all comes down to taste. It’s just saying, “I like this,” and I’d like to show other people that this is dope. It frustrates me that people say that I don’t do my own blog because I would never allow things to go up and say that this represents me.
Complex: Tell me about your process of discovery. You’re constantly absorbing new information, so who are you learning from?
Kanye West: I just keep a team of really, really dope people. Don C [from Kanye’s management] has to get the most credit because I respect his taste equally if not more than mine. I am me, but I am also a product of Don. So basically I am his artist even though he works for me. I’m a vessel of people’s ideas.
Complex: For someone who’s known as an egomaniac, you seem to like to collaborate a lot—
Kanye West: Yeah. The fact that I love to collaborate with people, I think, is a very non-arrogant thing. I absorb information, and I want people to know where the information is coming from so those people can be in a position for people to listen to them and capitalize off of the genius that they bring to the table—because I only surround myself with geniuses.
Complex: Do you think you’ve gotten to a place where there’s no self-consciousness or insecurity?
Kanye West:Yeah. There’s no insecurity in the work I do, the outfits I put together, the beats I make, the raps I say.
Complex: Speaking of public outbursts, why is it that you’ll flip on a journalist, like the dude from EW who shitted on the tour, but not another rapper that disses you?
Kanye West: Because I feel like I’m playing on the same intellectual level of a journalist and not of a rapper.
Complex: How so?
Kanye West: [Laughs.] I feel like if a rapper disses me, they’re just trying to get a rise out of me and get me to play in their field to find some way that they can beat me. I feel like there’s a lot of rappers that can beat me in ignorance. So why would I play a sport that I’m not particularly trying to get better at or beaten in? There’s a lot of rappers that can beat me in ignorance, but there’s only a few that can play with true intellect. [Long pause.] How fucking perfect is that fucking answer?!
Complex: So what would you say was the most important thing you learned about yourself in the last 12 months?
Kanye West: That I can be a very level-headed person. I would never spaz on MTV the way I did before. I feel like there are people who have given a lot to me and I wasn’t appreciative of them. MTV had a major part in making me, so how the hell could I ever come out my mouth and dis them and just be like the cry baby–ass bitch over one performance? How the hell is a 29-year-old grown-ass man acting like a little bitch and getting all emotional? How spoiled can I get?
Complex: Do you live in a state of anxiety over how you are being presented to the public?
Kanye West: In no way. It’s just that if I’m working with a writer that I feel don’t got my best interest in mind, I keep on telling them, “Put this in there” or “Don’t try to make me look like a monster.” But I’m not afraid. All I can do is be the best me and learn from the mistakes that I’ve made. There are mistakes that I’ve made that I deserve for people to look at me like a complete asshole because I have been a complete asshole. All I can do is just be a better person for myself—not to prove it to anyone, but just to be a better person, period. I beat myself up, and I make mistakes, and I get past it, and I get excited about the future.
Kanye may be a bit of a megalomaniac but he’s deffo a smart man and he’s deffo not afraid to do whatever it is that he wants to do. I do commend him for breaking with convention and taking fashion and style risks just because he wants to. He is very lucky that he’s got the clout to pull it off … a lesser performer might not be able to do the things that Kanye does. It’s not hyperbole to say that Kanye West is changing the Hip Hop game. On that merit alone, he is worthy of respect. It’d be nice if his head deflated a bit but I guess you can’t have it all. After the jump, check out a few photos from Kanye‘s Complex photospread, the photos are pretty tight … More »